“Master Race” Fascism Reawakens

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You might think the world would never again tolerate the rise of “master race” fascism. Surely, mankind has learned from the Holocaust and the other terrors inflicted by the Nazis?

But you might be mistaken. There are signs throughout Europe and in America that racially charged fascism is emerging from the shadows and becoming politically mainstream.

In Britain, right-wing extremists are basking in their Brexit victory.

In America, Richard Spencer’s “Allt-Right” movement, which staged a show of strength in Washington over the weekend, has been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump.

In France,  Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the Front National, said that Trump “made possible what had previously been presumed impossible.” She is urging voters in her country to rise up against “the elite” as they had in America.

In Germany, the right-wing nationalist party, Alternative for Germany, is poised to make significant gains in next year’s elections.

All of these movements oppose non-white immigration. Spencer, for example, flatly advocates the creation of a white homeland. He says Europeans are “conquerors” and are superior to other ethnic groups.

You might say Trump is not necessarily sympathetic to global racists. But he has not denounced them. Indeed, Marion Le Pen’s niece, Maréchal-Le Pen, said Trump’s representatives have invited her to work with him.

And Stephen Bannon, Trump’s senior adviser, is a close ally of Brexit architect Nigel Farage, who visited America to support Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump’s election is a product not only of economic resentment but also of white rage. And the world cannot afford to ignore this fact, however uncomfortable it may be to acknowledge it.

More on Richard Spencer

More on the rise of the far right

Racism and Trump’s victory

 

No Dignity, No Pride

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The abject surrender of Trump’s former opponents in the Republican Party makes me cringe. How can Mitt Romney shake the hand of a man he called “a fraud,” “a con man,” a phony” and “a danger to democracy”?

Why would Romney want to work for someone like Trump? How can he find common ground with someone he accused of “playing the American public for suckers”?

Was Romney mistaken when he said Trump “has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president”?

He must have been, for there he was yesterday shamelessly kissing Trump’s ring in a bid for the position of secretary of state in the new president’s regime.

Why would a billionaire like Romney stoop so low? Surely he doesn’t need a job that badly?

And Ted Cruz. Didn’t Cruz denounce Trump, refusing to endorse him at the Republican convention? Didn’t Cruz call Trump “a pathological liar”? Didn’t Cruz warn America that Trump is”utterly amoral,” “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen” and “a serial philanderer”?

Wasn’t it Cruz who said “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father”? Wasn’t it Cruz who vowed he would never be Trump’s “servile puppy dog”?

How can Cruz now proclaim Trump’s election as “an amazing victory for the American worker”? How can Cruz swallow his pride and offer his services as Trump’s attorney general?

Is this how sleazy the Republican Party is now? Is there nobody left with any pride or dignity? These are the people who now lead “the party of Lincoln”?

Romney and Trump

Cruz and Trump

 

Elections Have Consequences

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The protests against Donald Trump’s election victory are a waste of time. The protesters must realize that elections have consequences, and the way to influence those consequences is to vote.

Democrats did not turn out, so they lost.

Now, they will simply have to live with Trump’s racist, xenophobic, bigoted presidency. They probably will also have to live with economic disaster. Trump’s trickle-down approach has been tried and tried before, and it does not work.

With Trump’s selection of Michael Flynn as his national security advisor, we might even have to face catastrophic wars. Flynn is such a hothead he was kicked out of the Pentagon. Pray that he doesn’t plunge the world into a nuclear conflict.

Instead of blocking traffic, the protesters should be planning for the next election. In just two years, we will have an opportunity to regain control of Congress. And that will be the best defense against Trump’s excesses.

For example, we can put enough Democrats in the Senate to block his extreme Supreme Court choices. With a Republican Congress, Trump will stack the court with justices he can count on to repeal legalized abortion and turn back the clock on civil rights. If you don’t believe me, look at the people he has picked for his cabinet so far. Jefferson Davis Beauregard Sessions, for one.

With Alt Right apostle Steve Bannon whispering in his ear, Trump will trample civil rights, pander to the NRA, antagonize America’s global allies and increase income inequality. There will be no consideration for the LGBT community. Their right to marry the person they love will probably be taken away.

As for us seniors, we are in danger of losing Medicare and Social Security. If Trump gets his way, these life saving social programs will be turned over to his corporate cronies, who will rob us blind.

But Trump is assured of a Republican Congress for only the next two years. Democrats should be figuring out how to turn Congress blue in 2018. Wandering about in the streets won’t do any good.

 

In the Fake News Era

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To an old reporter like me, the “fake news” phenomenon is hard to take. In my day, we were so careful to check and double-check our stories. There was a a total ban on “single-source” reports, for example. If we couldn’t get a story confirmed, we didn’t publish it.

Now, with nearly half of Americans getting their news from Facebook, there is no line between reality and fiction.

You may have read on Facebook, for example, that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump and that leaked emails showed Hillary sold weapons to ISIS. Fake news stories like these were shared by millions of the site’s users.

There are dozens of people out there making up stuff to put on the internet. One example is Paul Horner, a 38-year-old fake-news impresario, who makes a living from concocting crazy stories and putting them on Facebook.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Horner  explains his success this way:

Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.

How dumb is the American public?

Well, when I was in the hospital recently, a young nurse earnestly informed me that she had read an article accusing Hillary Clinton of having an affair with an under-age girl. The young nurse seemed totally convinced that the story was accurate.

And Rickie, who lives across the street from Sandra and me, breathlessly reported that the Clintons regularly visit a 72-acre island in the Caribbean to have sex with children. He said the island is owned by a registered sex offender, billionaire Jeffery Epstein, and has a statue of “the owl god” on it, presumably for pagan rituals.

Now, if you can believe these stories, you won’t have any trouble accepting the zillions of conspiracy theories spewing from the far-right noise machine. You could also accept the notion that the “mainstream media” are spreading lies and the fake news outlets are the ones telling the truth.

Facebook and other popular “social media” sites are promising to try and curb the spread of false news. But, apparently, there isn’t much they can do except restrict access to advertising dollars  – when they identify which “news” is fake.

It’s a scary situation. I don’t see how democracy can survive when the Fourth Estate is so perverted. Do you?

Horner’s interview

More on fake news

Fake news web sites

Some popular fake news items

 

The State of the Union

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The election of Donald Trump to the highest post in the land leaves me wondering whether the states can remain united.  There is so little to unite Alabama and Oregon for example. Or Mississippi and Massachusetts.

The United States has grown so large that democracy apparently doesn’t work any longer.

Each state is a country unto itself with different demographics and different values.

Dividing North America laterally was the first error. Geographically, California, Oregon and Washington state, for example, have so much more in common with British Colombia than with Montana or Wyoming. And Montana and Wyoming have so much more in common with Alberta and Manitoba than with California.

But what’s done is done. There is no chance that Canadian provinces will join American states (or vice versa).

But there’s a real possibility that the American states have outgrown the union. California surely could stand as a separate country. And Texas has been straining at the bit for years to get out of the union.

While I doubt that the states will withdraw from the federation, I wonder whether the federal government will become much weaker and states rights will grow much stronger.

I expect the Tenth Amendment to be invoked far more than it has been in the past.

The implications are ominous. Decades of civil rights progress could be undone, for example. But with a white supremacist as Trump’s chief adviser, that’s frighteningly likely, anyway.

In the recent elections, America’s rustic tail wagged its urban dog. I don’t see powerhouses like California putting up with that kind of thing forever.

More on states’ rights

 

Curing America’s Sickness

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If this election has done nothing else, it has exposed America’s deep-rooted sickness. And perhaps in the long run, that will turn out to be a blessing. If the status quo had been maintained, the sickness might have festered beneath the surface and grown even more morbid – perhaps even fatal.

Now that Trump has won and the “deplorables” are celebrating their victory with racist and religious assaults across the country, nobody can deny that this is a very sick nation.

And recognizing the sickness is the first step to curing it.

The cure will be elusive of course. How do you fix a sickness of the soul?

President Obama, ever hopeful. thought there was “no blue America, no red America, just the United States of America.” I am sure he knows better now. Hillary insisted we would be “stronger together.” But when Americans get together, they don’t seek compromise, they fight.

It seems to me that our side has to win in order to implement any useful reforms. A tie just won’t do the trick.

Our side has lost this round. Irrefutably.

If we truly are the good guys, then the bad guys are in charge.

And if we are right, then the bad guys will make such a mess of things that the nation will see them for what they are and throw them out.

That has to happen for real reform to be possible. And when it does, I hope we won’t be duped by notions of compromise and “working together.” When it happens, it must be our way or the highway.

You don’t cure a sickness with half a dose of medicine.

More on sick America

 

Make Way for the Robots

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Sofia, an artificially intelligent robot, speaks with Ben Goertzel, AI researcher (left) and Mike Butcher (right), from TechCrunch, at this week’s Web Summit in Lisbon.

As America grapples with perceived problems from the past, the problems of the future loom ever closer. And I wonder whether anyone is paying attention.

It seems, for example, that Donald Trump’s victory was partly fueled by out-of-work factory employees and coal miners. He promised to bring back their jobs.

But, as my brother Bill observed yesterday, any factory jobs that get brought back will likely be done by robots.

It really doesn’t matter whether widgets get made in China or the US. It won’t be humans making those widgets anyway.

(And as for coal, why would anyone bother to dig up the stuff when natural gas is cheap and abundant?)

The media seems blissfully unaware of the extent of the global technological revolution, but every once in a while, some enterprising reporter provides a glimpse of what’s ahead for us.

I just read an article like that on the Inc. web site. Writer Will Yacowicz reports from the Web Summit in Lisbon that:

Right now, artificially intelligent robots are part of the workforce, from hotel butlers to factory workers.

And he says “this is just the beginning.”

Yacowicz quotes Ben Goertzel, one of the summit speakers as predicting that:

Intelligent robots in human-like forms will surpass human intelligence and help free the human race of work. They will also start fixing problems like hunger, poverty and even help humans beat death by curing us of all disease. Artificially intelligent robots will help usher in a new utopian era never before seen in the history of the human race,

According to this expert:

As super-human intelligent AIs become one billion-times smarter than humans, they will help us solve the world’s biggest problems. Resources will be plentiful for all humans, work will be unnecessary and we will be forced to accept a universal basic income. All the status hierarchies will disappear and humans will be free from work and be able to move on up to a more meaningful existence.

To illustrate their point, the summit experts introduced Sofia (pictured above), a human-looking robot with superior artificial intelligence.

The experts at the summit didn’t mention those out-of-work factory employees in the Midwest or the coal miners in places like West Virginia and Kentucky.

And they didn’t discuss global trade agreements and the allegedly job stealing illegal immigrants who haunt Trump’s nightmares.

I suppose it will be up to those “super-human intelligent” robots to figure out what to do about such pesky problems. It certainly is no job for Donald Trump and his ilk.

Perhaps we should elect Sofia as our next President.

Read Yacowicz’s article

More on the new robots

 

Time to Prepare for 2020

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If you’ve missed my blogs this past week and wondered where I was, I was in the hospital. Bleeding ulcer. If you’ve been there, you know. If you haven’t, trust me, you don’t want to know. Messy. Scary. Altogether not nice.

And look what you-all did while I was incapacitated!

It’s a sad situation when a guy can’t take a few sick days without the world getting into such serious trouble.

I know, I know, it wasn’t you. It was those rustics with straw in their hair, the good ole boys and gals who want to bring back the Fifties.

But I can promise them the Fifties ain’t what they’ll get. Mamie Eisenhower wasn’t a nude model from Slovenia. Ike wasn’t a casino owner with unsavory pals in Russia and even more unsavory pals in the Gambino Crime Family.

The rustics think Trump is going to “drain the swamp” in Washington. But Trump is a creature from a much nastier swamp.

His prime motivation is money, and he doesn’t care what he has to do to get it. So hold on to your wallets, folks!

If the world lucks out, he’ll be so busy looting the Treasury and appointing Gambino Family members to his cabinet that he won’t get around to triggering a nuclear Holocaust.

And his four-year term will end without bringing on the end of the world.

Americans should be organizing now for that day, assembling a political machine designed to make sure Trump gets four years and no more. That should be our number one priority.

My personal preference for the leader of this movement is Elizabeth Warren. But you might prefer Bernie. Either would be a good choice.

The point is there’s no time to waste. It will take at least four years to assemble a political machine mighty enough to topple the evil network backed by international organized crime, white supremacists and other agencies of the Devil.

So get busy folks! Time’s a-wastin’.

Trump and the Gambino Family

More on Trump and the mob

Trump’s Russian pals

 

Comey’s Bombshell is a Dud

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To anyone with a grain of sense, Hillary’s latest email “scandal” is absurd. This wretched Republican ploy to save Trump at the last minute is so obvious that I doubt any voters but  diehard Trump supporters will pay attention to it.

james-comeyDuring my newspaper days, I was always met with silence from law enforcement officers when I grilled them about “an ongoing investigation.” And I understood that solving a crime was more important than writing about it.

So isn’t this “an ongoing investigation”? So why is James Comey (above, right) running his mouth about it a few days before the election?

And what an “investigation”!

Huma Abedin (above with Hillary) borrowed Anthony Weiner’s laptop. And the FBI found her emails on it while investigating alleged inappropriate contact between Weiner (below, right) and a teenaged girl.

anthony-weinerBig deal. It’s not against the law to borrow your husband’s computer, is it? And it’s not against the law to send and receive work-related emails on it?

What else could the FBI be investigating? According to an AP report:

From previous reporting, it is known that the emails have nothing to do with Clinton, her campaign, the Clinton Foundation, the Russian hacks, the State Department, and any emails she sent or received.

Comey has already gone through thousands of emails from Hillary’s server, and found no cause for criminal charges of any kind. Comey explained in announcing the result of the investigation that,  although Hillary had used her computer to handle a few documents considered “classified,” there was no intent to harm the country.

So does he think Huma’s emails will show that Hillary was deliberately trying to hurt America?

If you believe that, you must also believe that Michelle Obama is a man and her two daughters were adopted from Morocco. And that Barack was born in Kenya. And all the other lurid fantasies concocted by the right-wing media.

The person who is likely to hurt America is the Republican nominee. He is in Putin’s pocket, for one thing. And he’s a loose cannon for another.

It doesn’t even take a grain of sense to see that.

More on the “scandal”

 

Freezing in a Warming World

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Brace yourself for a flurry from the climate change deniers this winter. According to a recently released study, parts of North America are in for bitter cold. And you know the scoffers will use the freezing weather to mock those of us alarmed by the warming of the world.

They don’t understand how climate change works. I guess they don’t want to understand.

I’ll try to explain it anyway.

The coming deep freeze is due to the weakening of the polar vortex, a mass of icy air swirling around the North Pole. As the globe warms, the polar cap melts, and the polar vortex gets weaker.

This weakening has caused a shifting of the vortex, resulting in warmer winters for Europe but colder winters for North America. Expect the worst of the freeze in February and March and expect the cold weather to come farther south than usual.

When the cold winds blow and some climate-change skeptic starts taunting you, tell him climate change doesn’t warm the whole world in a uniform way. The weather is more complex than that.

Martin Chipperfield, a professor at the University of Leeds and co-author of the study, explains it this way:

Climate change can lead to extremes; it’s not like a regular change, everyone to the same extent at all times and places. Despite the overall warming, you can get in places like the Northeast US extreme cold events.

The Arctic ice is melting even when we are shivering. One reason is Arctic amplification, which occurs as melting ice and snow are replaced by dark blue water and land. If your skeptical  friend finds that hard to grasp, ask him if he knows dark colors absorb heat faster than light colors. Ice and snow are white, see? Water and land are dark.

So the Arctic warms a lot more quickly than some other parts of the world.

Surely your skeptical friend should be able to understand that.

More on the study